Encountering the Dharma: Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakkai, and the Globalization of Buddhist Humanism

Univ of California Press
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This engaging, deeply personal book, illuminating the search for meaning in today’s world, offers a rare insider’s look at Soka Gakkai Buddhism, one of Japan’s most influential and controversial religious movements, and one that is experiencing explosive growth around the world. Unique for its multiethnic make-up, Gakkai Buddhists can be found in more than 100 countries from Japan to Brazil to the United States and Germany. In Encountering the Dharma, Richard Seager, an American professor of religion trying to come to terms with the death of his wife, travels to Japan in search of the spirit of the Soka Gakkai. This book tells of his journey toward understanding in a compelling narrative woven out of his observations, reflections, and interviews, including several rare one-on-one meetings with Soka Gakkai president Daisaku Ikeda. Along the way, Seager also explores broad-ranging controversies arising from the Soka Gakkai’s efforts to rebuild post-war Japan, its struggles with an ancient priesthood, and its motives for propagating Buddhism around the world. One turning point in his understanding comes as Ikeda and the Soka Gakkai strike an authentically Buddhist response to the events of September 11, 2001.
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About the author

Richard Hughes Seager, Associate Professor of Religion at Hamilton College, is author of Buddhism in America, The World’s Parliament of Religions: The East/West Encounter, Chicago, 1893, and The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from the World’s Parliament of Religions, 1893.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Univ of California Press
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Published on
Mar 16, 2006
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Pages
268
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ISBN
9780520939042
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Buddhism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Over the past half century in America, Buddhism has grown from a transplanted philosophy to a full-fledged religious movement, rich in its own practices, leaders, adherents, and institutions. Long favored as an essential guide to this history, Buddhism in America covers the three major groups that shape the tradition—an emerging Asian immigrant population, native-born converts, and old-line Asian American Buddhists—and their distinct, yet spiritually connected efforts to remake Buddhism in a Western context.

This edition updates existing text and adds three new essays on contemporary developments in American Buddhism, particularly the aging of the baby boom population and its effect on American Buddhism's modern character. New material includes revised information on the full range of communities profiled in the first edition; an added study of a second generation of young, Euro-American leaders and teachers; an accessible look at the increasing importance of meditation and neurobiological research; and a provocative consideration of the mindfulness movement in American culture. The volume maintains its detailed account of South and East Asian influences on American Buddhist practices, as well as instances of interreligious dialogue, socially activist Buddhism, and complex gender roles within the community. Introductory chapters describe Buddhism's arrival in America with the nineteenth-century transcendentalists and rapid spread with the Beat poets of the 1950s. The volume now concludes with a frank assessment of the challenges and prospects of American Buddhism in the twenty-first century.

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